HYBRID POWER SET TO HAVE POSITIVE IMPACT AT SILVERSTONE
Research shows many motorists believe BTCC hybrid will help drive change on the road
With a hybrid powered car taking to the track in the UK’s biggest motorsport championship for the first time this weekend (24-26 Sept), new research reveals the importance of this development for the everyday motorist.
A study by Kwik Fit, title sponsor of the British Touring Car Championship, found that motorists believe introducing hybrid power to the grid will have a positive impact – both for racing and in speeding up the shift to electric in road cars. 57% of drivers believe that using hybrid or electric power in motor racing will help convince those who remain sceptical that these cars are credible alternatives to traditionally fuelled vehicles.
This rises to 65% among motorsport fans and a majority say these developments have a direct impact on their own views. 54% of racing fans say that seeing cars with hybrid or electric engines in racing makes them more likely to consider buying a low emission vehicle themselves.
The BTCC will switch to hybrid power in all cars for the 2022 season and in advance of that, a test vehicle will make its maiden outing in the Silverstone meeting this weekend. Around one in six drivers (18%) say that a specific manufacturer’s performance in motor racing influences their view of that car brand. However, showcasing technology in an entire race series can be influential for many more drivers. The Kwik Fit research found that some 58% of drivers, around 24 million motorists, believe that it’s important to demonstrate that hybrid or electric power is suitable for racing as it shows the high performance and reliability of these engines.
The TOCA Hybrid car will take part in practice, qualifying and all three races at Silverstone, albeit starting from the pitlane. Participating in race conditions, with 2013 BTCC champion Andrew Jordan at the wheel, is a crucial part of the ongoing test and development programme ahead of next season’s grid-wide adoption of the new technology.
Andy Lane, marketing director at Kwik Fit, said: “It’s important that technological development remains a focus of racing, and that fans can see advances which are reflected in everyday motoring. Seven in ten drivers think that technology in road cars often comes from racing innovations, and we believe that this is especially relevant to a series where motorists can easily relate to cars which are advanced versions of their own vehicles.”
As well as the influence that introducing new technology into racing can have on the road, motorists believe that innovation is vital to the future of racing itself. The overwhelming majority of drivers, 73% (rising to 82% of motorsport fans), say that they expect there will be strict restrictions on racing in cars with petrol engines within the next 20 years and for motor racing to survive it will have to develop hybrid or electric replacements. Two thirds of drivers (67%) believe that it’s important for motor racing to show that they are working to reduce emissions from their cars.
The Silverstone meeting is the first chance for fans to see the new hybrid in a race format. Although Andrew Jordan won’t be able to score any points for the championship and the car is only part-way through its development cycle, all eyes will be on how the car performs at the home of British motor racing, with everyone looking for pointers for next season.
2021 marks 50 years since Kwik Fit opened its first centre and the company is celebrating the milestone at Silverstone. To highlight how motoring has changed in those decades, both on the road and in racing, a replica of Toyota’s BTCC title-winning Corolla from the 1980s will take to the track alongside the new TOCA Hybrid Corolla between practice sessions. Kwik Fit will be interviewing drivers Sam Smelt and Andrew Jordan to explain the key differences and sharing their thoughts and experiences on the company’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter.